Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is under a serious threat of depleting groundwater resources, as most of the province’s tube wells have become barren and citizens are forced to dig deeper than usual for freshwater.
Government officials have also warned that the groundwater is being consumed at an unsustainable rate in KP. Chief Engineer of the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), Irfan Rasheed, said that the problem is more severe in the southern districts.
Furthermore, the Deputy Director (DD) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) KP, Afsar Khan, concurred with Chief Engineer’s remarks and stated that groundwater has become undrinkable, as it is often too salty, while freshwater is too deep, making it more difficult to access.
According to Khan, the provincial government named five districts out of 34 as hotspots of drinking water shortages in 2014. The districts included Lower Dir, Dera Ismail Khan, Karak, Lakki Marwat, and Tank. Note here that four of these are in the province’s south.
Similarly, a 2019 research by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) revealed that the groundwater in Mohmand and Khyber districts has significantly dropped over the previous four-five years of the study.
Causes Behind Depleting Groundwater
In 2019, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) authorized solar panels for 700 tube wells, which intensified groundwater extraction.
A researcher at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Dr. Shahid Iqbal, stated that a 12.5 horsepower solar tube well pulls 35,000 gallons of water each day, which is equivalent to 1.5 cusecs per month.
Similarly, the province’s booming population and urbanization also play their part in the groundwater shortage. In addition, KP has witnessed high rates of rural-to-urban migration, which contributed to depleting water resources in urban areas of the province.
Pakistan approved its first National Water Policy (NWP) in April 2018. The federal government described the water issue as a “thunderbolt” and urged provinces to take action in order to effectively utilize their water resources.
In July this year, the Directorate General of Soil Conservation (DGSC) inked an agreement with the PCRWR to stop the groundwater problem from getting out of control.
Via ARY News